Feeling overwhelmed right now with all those incomplete New Year’s resolutions, paper notices and bills piling up? Here’s a solution: stamp or stomp your feet real hard for a few minutes.
I know it sounds strange, but stamping your feet – ideally with heavy shoes or boots in a safe and uncluttered place – is a great tension reliever, and can do two things:
- Ground you, and
- Release “sympathetic overload.”
The Grounding Effect
Stomping will ground you. Seems obvious, but the association with 2-year-old temper tantrums keeps most of us from doing this as adults. Usually we adults prefer the stomping associated with dancing (which is also very beneficial for grounding).
But here’s the truth: overwhelm and tension happens when the body’s Chi or energy rises too quickly. Too much rising too quickly can cause a host of mental, emotional and physical symptoms, like an overload of thoughts, fear (fight or flight syndrome), headaches, and even hiatal hernias and heart attacks.
Hiatal hernias, for example, happen when the energy pushes the top of the stomach through the small opening in the diaphragm. This causes a restriction, pain, acid reflux and pain. Remedy for this? Drink a glass of water and jump up and down on a small trampoline. The weight of the water and downward acceleration will drop your stomach below the diaphragm again, causing immediate relief.
Like that, stomping – or wild dancing – can force the Chi downward again, re-connect you to the earth, and relief symptoms of overwhelm. Try it: ground yourself by stomping – preferably in a private place. If stomping doesn’t feel right to you, try walking barefoot in the grass as a more gentle solution. Grass walking is not always available, however, to city dwellers and office workers. Stomping is.
Release Sympathetic Overload
You have two nervous systems: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic or Autonomic. The parasympathetic is responsible for maintaining homeostasis and making sure all your organs and systems are working properly all the time, even during sleep. Your parasympathetic NS helps you relax, meditate, and chill. This is the one you call on when you need rest.
If you are in overwhelm, however, this means that your sympathetic nervous system is “stuck” in fight/flight mode and can’t let go. When this happens, often the only way out is further in, i.e., yelling, stomping, fighting, or running. Once the adrenals are depleted, you can again let go and fall into a restful state to hopefully replenish the exhaustion.
Too much fight/flight, however, will keep you in sympathetic overload, unable to relax, and will increase the acidity in your bloodstream and system. This, in turn, leads to chronic problems like loss of sleep, indigestion, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, gallstones, liver or kidney failure, heart palpitations or much more serious problems like diabetes and heart failure.
So stomping might be embarrassing? Well, so is lying half-naked in a hospital bed with tubes stuck in your body! Personally, I prefer to risk a bit of embarrassment….
Try stomping your feet – outside or in a private room somewhere – next time you feel a sense of overwhelm. Done in moderation, this “tantrum” can be really good for your health… or the health of your coaching clients!
Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.